The 2015 NFL season kicks off as the New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers. This looks to be a hard-fought battle at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The spread stands at 6.5 with the Pats being favored. New England will take the field as the 2015 Super Bowl champions.
The Pats are on a quest to repeat as champions. Brady would love to excel in this game after having his four-game Deflategate suspension thrown out by a judge about two weeks ago and seeing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell severely upbraided by the judge.
Pittsburgh is looking to start the season off strong after winning the AFC North last season but losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs 30-17. The Steelers want to prove the pundits wrong who have picked them finishing a weak third at 8-8 in their division.
Tom Brady has been off and on in the preseason. Then again, that’s the preseason. Brady, who’s protected by a seasoned and strong frontline, will have enough time to pass. Rob Gronkowski is more than a safety valve receiver and WR Julian Edelman is an elusive pass catcher. Add to that some fine depth in the receiving corps, and the Pats are a major air threat. However, their ground game is weak. This may hurt them in the game.
Another problem is their defense, especially their secondary and frontline. They will struggle against Pittsburgh. However, the Patriots strong special teams will be difference-makers in this game.
Ben Roethlisberger is an amazingly strong and accurate QB. He’s protected by one of the better frontlines around that should easily handle the New England pass rush. WR Antonio Brown should have a good night against the Patriot D-backs. The receiving squad is exceptionally strong. Plus, the Steelers have All Pro Le’Veon Ball at RB.
If the Pats defense is problematic, the Pittsburgh D is no better and in many ways worse off. Brady can exploit the weaknesses in the linebacking unit and D-back squad. Plus, the Pittsburgh special teams are good but not extraordinary.
The Patriots will try to strike quickly, but expect them to stall out at first. They may even end the half behind. But the New England coaches are experts at making adjustments and Brady is one of the best second-half QBs around. They will alternate on offense between tossing the long ball and the quick short pass. Precision is a trademark on this team and that will serve them well in this contest.
Pittsburgh will run and pass, alternating their attack. They’ll be looking to punch big holes in the Patriot defense and go ahead by double digits. But they won’t be able to stop the New England air game, which can and will make up points quickly. Especially against a team like the Steelers, which last year was prone to making game-losing mistakes.
Can the Patriots beat the spread? That depends on a few things. The first is the Patriot defense, which has been weakened upfront. Plus, the secondary is problematic. However, the Steelers secondary is much weaker and very vulnerable. When push comes to shove, the Pats should win outright. But this will be a close game. In the end, a 27-24 win by the Pats puts them a little under and has been losing against the 6.5 spread. This is a tough game to bet.